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Epilogue to ¡...Escucha Winka...!



Mapuche Historians Write and Talk Back: Background and Role of ¡…Escucha, winka…! Cuatro ensayos sobre Historia Nacional Mapuche y un epílogo sobre el futuro (2006)

Luis Cárcamo Huechante | University of Texas, Austin

In 2006, Mapuche historians Pablo Marimán, Sergio Caniuqueo, Jose Millalén, and sociologist Rodrigo Levil published ¡…Escucha, winka…! Cuatro ensayos sobre Historia Nacional Mapuche y un epílogo sobre el futuro, which focuses on the history of the Mapuche People in Chile. The work came out through the publishing house LOM Ediciones, founded in 1990 in Santiago as an independent press and which gained visibility during the early years of post-Pinochet Chile. A distinctive feature of LOM Ediciones was its focus on humanities and social sciences scholarship that was critical of the neoliberal regime that prevailed during the democratic transition. LOM Ediciones also opened its doors to poets and writers whose books did not have space in the catalogues of corporate publishing houses.[1] According to its authors, ¡…Escucha, winka…! took shape in the mid-2000s thanks to an invitation from LOM Ediciones, which was the result of the editorial committee’s interest in learning “how Mapuche historians conceive their history” (Marimán et. al. 2006, 7).[2]

The collaboratively written book that appeared in 2006 was the first to offer a historical narrative from a Mapuche perspective of the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the Mapuche People, as well as an account of their relationship to the Chilean State. ¡…Escucha, winka…! soon became an important reading for young activists, especially urban activists involved in the Mapuche movement supporting land recovery actions in rural communities and in collective advocacy for Mapuche demands in both urban and rural settings in Santiago and southern Chile.[3] For them as for many other readers, the book became a tool for memory making, engaging them in a longer Mapuche history, and enriching their political vision in the present. With this background in mind, in this preface, I offer a historical and conceptual contextualization of the “Epilogue” to ¡…Escucha, winka…!, which the editorial team of the journal e-misférica has decided to publish in English translation.[4]

Historical Background

After 1973, during years of underground pro-democracy activism and a period of intense political repression in Chile, the Mapuche movement began its own process of historical reconstruction through several community-based organizational endeavors. Around 1978, Pinochet’s military government undertook legal reforms to justify the sub-division of indigenous communal lands and their conversion into “individual parcels” through the promulgation of a new Decree Law.[5] In response to these neoliberal policies, Mapuche communities began to define the specific interests of the Mapuche People in the context of Chile under dictatorship. On September 12, 1978, 155 Mapuche leaders and representatives from 90 communities gathered at a retreat center of the Diocese of Temuco. They endorsed a common platform of action that included the promotion of organized ways to defend community rights and, toward that end, the formation of Mapuche Cultural Centers. In 1980, Ad Mapu was founded, intensifying Mapuche activism in the local and national scene. [6] For Mapuches, these initiatives implied joining the democratic opposition against the authoritarian regime and also challenging the power of Chilean society as a colonial society. During the 1980s, a series of organizational endeavors expressed the will to establish and position an autonomous indigenous politics based on a Mapuche metanarrative of territory and peoplehood. This political vision was embodied by several autonomist organizations that emerged during this period, including the Consejo de Todas las Tierras/Awkiñ Wallmapu Ngülam [Council of All the Lands], founded in the city of Temuco in 1989, and that, in the very name Wallmapu, embraced a Mapuche concept of nationhood.

Wallmapu , in Mapudungun (the Mapuche language), originally means “in the earth’s surround,” that is, the universe. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mapuche political organizations such as the Consejo began to use the term to vindicate the historical territory of the Mapuche People, thus making it equivalent to the concepts of Mapuche Nation (Nación Mapuche) or Mapuche country (País Mapuche). With this geopolitical dimension, Wallmapu began to be used by Mapuche leaders and communities in Chile and Argentina to strengthen a politics of self-determination and Mapuche nationalism.[7] The idea of a Mapuche country had been historically displaced by the cartographic national terms “Argentina” and “Chile.” The use of Wallmapu allowed for a recovery and vindication of an alternate Mapuche cartography.

For Mapuches, Wallmapu encompasses what today is known as Chile, between Santiago and the southern island of Chiloé (Ngulumapu in Mapuche cartography), and the Argentine provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, as well as the central-southern end of the province of Buenos Aires (on the Mapuche map named Puelmapu). For many indigenous activists Wallmapu is, then, the Mapuche territory that was occupied by Spanish colonial agents from the sixteenth century until early nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, this geopolitical territory was practically dismantled by the expansion of the Argentine and Chilean nation-states establishing the colonial situation that prevails to this day. The alternative indigenous mapping and naming of the region as Wallmapu forms part of a Mapuche cartographic vision that is rooted in a historical memory of self-governance that preceded colonial domination.

Thus, by the end of the twentieth century, Mapuches once again began to produce and circulate their own geopolitical concepts. The intellectual agency of Mapuches in the realm of written culture has played a central role in this process. From political manifestos and written poetry to historiographical writings and digital newspapers, Mapuche agency has found voice in multiple media, and through them it has created a multifaceted public discourse. In this context, the publication of the book ¡…Escucha, winka…! constitutes a performance of indigenous intellectual agency committed to a political project of Mapuche nationhood.

The Story of a Mapuche Book

The idea to translate the “Epilogue” of this book into English honors the political and historical relevance of this text. ¡…Escucha, winka…! was the result of a collaborative work undertaken in the mid-2000s by the four Mapuche authors. At the time, Marimán, Caniuqueo, Millalén and Levil had studied history at the Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco, and Levil had specialized in the field of sociology at the same university. Like many young indigenous researchers, they were struggling to survive economically and find ways to combine their community engagements with the challenge of continuing or discontinuing graduate school. In spite of this, they managed to keep their Mapuche research agendas active by working outside the circuits of the academia in Chile, an institutional setting in which the “expertise” on indigenous subjects has historically been, and it is still today, almost completely monopolized by non-indigenous Chilean scholars.[8]

The political and intellectual lives of these authors took shape in this challenging context. Pablo Marimán Quemenado was born in Santiago in 1967, and moved to Temuco in 1989 to pursue his university studies and to be in the epicenter of Mapuche political activity in southern Chile. The other three authors were originally from the region: José Millalén Pillal was born in 1969 in the Mañiuko community, in Galvarino, close to Temuco; Rodrigo Levil Chicahual was born in Temuco in 1974; and, Sergio Caniuqueo Huircapán was also born in Temuco, in 1976. In the late 1980s and during the 1990s, all of them participated in activist networks and spaces in Temuco, such as We Kintun, an organization of Mapuche students. In 2002, when state repression against Mapuche autonomist communities intensified under the post-Pinochet governments of the center-left Concertación, they coincided again at the local activities of the Coordinación de Organizaciones e Identidades Territoriales Mapuche [Coordination of Mapuche Organizations and Territorial Identities], which became an influential indigenous referent in the 2000s. By the time the four authors started writing ¡…Escucha, winka…!, what they shared, besides their political involvement in the Mapuche movement, was a common research interest in Mapuche-Chilean historical relations as well as academic training in historical and social sciences either at the college level or at a beginning graduate stage. With this mix of political and historiographical interests, in 2004 they undertook the task of conceiving and writing this multi-authored book on Mapuche history.

As a whole, ¡…Escucha, winka…! Cuatro ensayos sobre Historia Nacional Mapuche y un epílogo sobre el futuro is comprised of an introduction, four chapters, and an epilogue. In the “Introduction,” the four authors lay out the historical foundations for undertaking a Mapuche view on the history of colonialism and the invasive role of the Chilean nation-state in Mapuche lands. Then, José Millalén Paillal writes about Pre-Hispanic Mapuche society, discussing archeological and ethnohistorical narratives about the origins and ancestral history of Mapuches and their forms of knowledge and social organization. In the second chapter, Pablo Marimán Quemenado retells the process of military, ecclesiastical, and economic invasion of Mapuche territory during thenineteenth century by the agents of the Argentine and Chilean state. In the third chapter, Sergio Caniuqueo provides a historical account of Mapuche social, political, and economic life in Chile from the late 1880s to the 1970s. In the fourth chapter, Rodrigo Levil documents how Mapuches reacted to the military dictatorship that was violently established in 1973 by General Augusto Pinochet and his allies. Levil explores the resurgence of Mapuche social and political organizations during the Pinochet and post-Pinochet years.[9] The imposition of neoliberalism under the dictatorship and its continuity in post-dictatorship Chile frames his account of the period. As a way to perform collective authorship, in the “Epilogue” of ¡…Escucha, winka…!, the four scholars envision the guiding concepts for the Mapuche movement in the present and the future. The authors bring to the fore the challenges of historical reconstruction of a Mapuche nation, the role of autonomy and self-determination in this process, and the question of territorial identities and the new urban and rural realities of a heterogeneous Mapuche country.

¡…Escucha, winka…! is a book that was written at a specific intellectual and political juncture. In their “Introduction,” Marimán, Millalén, Caniuqueo, and Levil recount how they decided to write this book as a response to statements made by the well known Chilean historian José Bengoa in a seminar in Santiago on January 3, 2003. At this event, Bengoa claimed that “the lands for which the State could assume indebtedness with the Mapuche are only those that were part of theproceso de radicación [process of legal settlement] through the granting of títulos de merced [land grant titles]” (11, my italics).[10] It is relevant to point out here that the legal and economic arrangements of the proceso de radicación that put Mapuches in reducciones [reservations] was the outcome of a Chilean military invasion of the Mapuche country between the early 1860s and 1880s. This process resulted in the forced removal of Mapuches from their historical lands, which happened in Chile under the euphemistic name “Campaign for the Pacification of the Araucania” and had its parallel in Mapuche lands in Argentina under the so called “Campaign of the Desert.”[11]

For Marimán, Caniuqueo, Millalén, and Levil, assumptions like Bengoa’s imply that only those indigenous lands assigned to Mapuche communities by the law of the Chilean state should be acknowledged, thereby serving the state’s own historical and political interests. The authors of ¡…Escucha, winka…! declare that, according to this “logic,” “the spaces corresponding to mountains, prairies, plains, coastal areas, or other places that did not have permanent population nor periodical use, did not have sovereign subjects, or, to put it another way, they did not belong to us” (Marimán et. al. 2006,12). According to the Mapuche scholars, this argument validated a whole state policy by which major areas of Mapuche territory were simply “state lands” or “public lands” available for business affairs between Chilean governments and private national and transnational capital. Given the Chilean state interest-oriented arguments of Bengoa and other Chilean historians (who claim an indisputable “expertise” on the history of the Mapuche People), Marimán, Caniuqueo, Millalén, and Levil decided to accept the invitation of LOM Ediciones and undertake the writing of Escucha winka! during 2004 and 2005.

The title ¡…Escucha, winka…! performs a mode of Mapuche empowerment. On the one hand, it calls up a specific non-indigenous audience: the winka, which, in Mapudungun, means “foreigner,” “invader,” or “colonizer.” The interjectional aspect of the title and its appeal to readers as listeners (“escucha”) also suggests an engagement with the expressiveness of oral discourse, and the performative power of speech in Mapuche culture. Appealing to the winka as a “listener” is a way to challenge them to hear as well as to think about a history, and the use of the ellipses in the title signals an invitation to pause and meditate. To address the winka implies an acknowledgement of the main audience of the book, that is, readers from the non-indigenous “lettered culture” of which LOM Ediciones, as a Chilean publishing house, forms part. The authors’ assumption was that a significant number of readers would be people identified with the colonizing society and with a Chilean way of telling the history of the region. The Mapuche scholars affirm that they wrote the book “thinking of the people who ignore our present and have no idea about our influence in the history of Chile and Argentina” (Marimán et. al. 2006, 16). Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, they also thought of their audience as “the new generations of Mapuche who, once disenchanted with the mental colonization that the State has carried out through education, find what we did not have, an organized and systematic record that reminds them to whom they belong [as Mapuches]” (Marimán et. al. 2006, 16). In these terms, the authors envisioned the book as a cross-cultural medium that engaged this double track of audiences.

On the other hand, ¡…Escucha, winka…! “voices” through writing a Mapuche subject of enunciation, and semantically reinforces in the subtitle a vision of Mapuche nationhood and history: Cuatro ensayos de Historia Nacional Mapuche y un epílogo sobre el futuro [Four Essays of Mapuche National History and An Epilogue about the Future]. In this vein, as a performance of indigenous scholarship, it resonates with initiatives undertaken by indigenous collectives in other regions of the hemisphere, in both Abya Yala and Turtle Island.[12] These include the Aymara research group Taller de Historia Oral Andina established in 1983 in La Paz, Bolivia; the creation of indigenous and intercultural universities in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Mexico; and, in the northern hemisphere, several collectively edited books by Native American scholars.[13] These initiatives have made indigenous intellectual agency much more salient in the contemporary scene of knowledge production and circulation.

¡…Escucha, winka…! emerged from comparable endeavors that placed a native sense of “epistemological sovereignty” at the center.[14] In this regard, an important antecedent was the Centro de Estudios y Documentación Mapuche Liwen [Liwen Center of Mapuche Studies and Documents], that was founded in Temuco in 1989 and brought together several Mapuche researchers who, like the authors of ¡…Escucha, winka…!, worked outside the institutional spaces of Chilean academia. One of their objectives was to write materials to be used in workshops on Mapuche history for community leaders. According to Pablo Marimán, a founding member of this collective, the work of the Centro Liwen researchers, especially between 1995 and 2005, included “the presentation of a metanarrative under the rubric of Mapuche national history,” which “aroused the attention of the participants” and strengthened an understanding of the Chilean state-Mapuche relations as part of a “colonial situation” (Marimán et. al. 2006,17). As Marimán, Millalén, Caniuqueo and Levil state, “Mapuche History means reengaging our past based on our own epistemology and constructing new knowledge based on our own culture” (Marimán et. al. 2006, 9). [15]

Within this framework, the translation of the “Epilogue” of ¡…Escucha, winka…! in this issue of e-misférica makes an important contribution to discussions of colonialism, autonomous indigenous politics, and indigenous nationalisms. This collectively authored text registers a sense of indigenous intellectual agency and envisions key concepts of contemporary Mapuche struggles. Its publication in English constitutes a meaningful contribution and also an invitation to broaden our hemispheric and global dialogues, in the terms of an indigenous conversation.

Luis E. Cárcamo-Huechante is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Texas at Austin, and he has been a 2013-2014 Fellow at the National Humanities Center. As a member of the Comunidad de Historia Mapuche, a collective of Mapuche researchers, in 2012 he co-edited an inter-disciplinary collection of essays entitled Ta iñ fijke xipa rakizuameluwün. Historia, colonialismo y resistencia desde el país Mapuche (Ediciones Comunidad de Historia Mapuche). Previously, in 2007, he published his own book, Tramas del mercado: imaginación económica, cultura pública y literatura en el Chile de fines del siglo veinte (Editorial Cuarto Propio); and also in 2007, he co-edited, with Alvaro Fernández Bravo and Alejandra Laera, a volume of essays entitled El valor de la cultura: arte, literatura y mercado en América Latina (Beatriz Viterbo Editora).


              [1] Another press of a similar profile during this period in Chile was Editorial Cuarto Propio.

              [2] All translations from the Spanish are mine.

              [3]An excellent account of the Mapuche movement in the 1990s is the chapter “Sociedad mapuche contemporánea,” by Rodrigo Levil in Marimán et. al. (2006). See specifically. 241–245.

              [4] I would like to acknowledge the proactive role played by my colleague Macarena Gómez-Barris in making the publication of this text in translation possible as well as the endorsement for it on the part of the four authors of ¡…Escucha, winka…!

              [5] On March 28, 1978, the military regime promulgated the Law Decree 2,568 which parceled communally-owned Mapuche lands as individual, private properties. This amendment debunked the Indigenista 17,729 Law, a legal arrangement inherited from the pre-1973 governments that enabled Mapuche communities to keep at least some degree of communal ownership through land grant rights conceded by populist or reformist governments during the twentieth century.

              [6] On the formation of these Mapuche organizations in the late 1970s and early 1980s, see Levil in Marimán et. al (2006, 233–237.) On the significant role of Mapuche women in the Mapuche movement in this period, and more specifically in organizations such as the Mapuche Cultural Centers and Ad Mapu, see Calfio Montalva (2009, 100–106).

              [7] On the historical development of Mapuche nationhood and nationalism, see Millalén (2012).

              [8] When ¡… Escucha, winka…! was published, there were hardly any Mapuches with positions in history departments in Chilean academy. This is still the case today. By the mid-2000s, only three Mapuche scholars with permanent positions in a Chilean university come to mind: María Catrileo, with an MA degree in Linguistics, held a permanent position at the Universidad Austral de Chile; Rosamel Millamán, who did graduate studies in Anthropology, held a position at the Universidad Católica de Temuco; and Daniel Quilaqueo Rapimán, who had earned his doctorate at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris III, was also at the Universidad Católica de Temuco. By 2006, they had different positions regarding Mapuche politics: Millamán had a trajectory of active engagement in the Mapuche movement; Catrileo focused her work in the vindication and study of the Mapuche language and culture; and Quilaqueo Rapimán, detached from the Mapuche movement, was devoted to intercultural education as an exclusively academic, institutional path. Catrileo recently retired, and Millamán and Quilaqueo Rapimán still teach at the Universidad Católica in Temuco. As of 2014, the overwhelming dominance of Mapuche studies by non-indigenous scholars remains the case in the Chilean academy.

              [9] Levil presents a historical account of Mapuche initiatives and organizations invested in the democratic struggle as well as in indigenous rights, or what I would call the organized and engaged Mapuche movement. As with a significant segment of the Chilean population in general, there were Mapuche communities who remained detached from political engagements or who endorsed the Pinochet regime and right-wing agendas during this period. Nevertheless, it is problematic to reduce Mapuche political alignments to the Chilean left wing-right wing logic, since many Mapuches tend to perform an alternative political rationale as a People. For example, Mapuches who may circumstantially express sympathy for Chilean right-wing leaders, on the actual social ground may support demands for Mapuche land rights and self-governance.

              [10] Proceso de radicación was, as described by scholar Florencia Mallon, the “process of legal settlement onto land-grant communities that the Chilean state sponsored for the Mapuche people” (Mallon 2005, 255). This law was passed in 1866 and put in practice generally throughout Mapuche lands in the following decades. As characterized by historian Thomas Klubock, “in 1866, the state passed its most important legislation on settling the indigenous subjects of military conquest on the southern frontier. The law sought to impose state control of Mapuches by settling them on reducciones, literally reducing them to narrowly circumscribed sedentary communities” (Klubock 2014, 31). In ¡…Escucha, winka…!, historian Pablo Marimán provides a Mapuche perspective on the effects of the Chilean military invasion of indigenous territory and subsequent land removal in late nineteenth century: “The Mapuche nation was forced to live on reservations, on lands of low quality for agriculture and cattle raising. The creation of these reservations, or proceso de radicación, took place between 1884 and 1930. According to official figures, of the nine and a half million acres—between Biobio and Llankiwe—only 5.5% (a twentieth) remained Indigenous” (Marimán et. al. 2006, 121).

              [11] ¡…Escucha, winka…! devotes a whole section to this historical process of violent land removal of Mapuche communities in Chile as well as in Argentina. See Marimán et. al. 2006, 53–127.

              [12] Abya Yala is the native term that Aymara leader Takir Mamani proposed in the 1980s to represent what was colonized as the “New World.” Abya Yala means “land in its full ripeness” or “land in its full maturity” in Kuna language (Panama) and the Kuna people have used it to name the whole continent. Turtle Island is the name that many American Indian communities and leaders use to represent what we know as “North America.”

              [13] In regard to collective endeavors by Native American scholars that were written in the mid-2000s, two important books in the fields of literary and cultural criticism come to mind: American Indian Literary Nationalism (2006), a collaborative work of Jace Weaver, Craig S. Womack, and Robert Warrior, and Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective (2008), which brings together twelve authors and was collaboratively edited by Craig S. Womack, Daniel Heath Justice, and Christopher B. Teuton.

              [14] I use the term “epistemological sovereignty” as elaborated in the introduction of our book Ta iñ fijke xipa rakizuameluwün: historia, colonialismo y resistencia desde el país Mapuche, a collection of essays that was published in 2012 as the result of the creation of the collective of Mapuche researchers Comunidad de Historia Mapuche—of which I am a member.The notion of “epistemological sovereignty” is a response to paternalistic indigenista scholarship in Chile. We affirm: “It is for this reason that, exercising our epistemological sovereignty and practice through our authorship as well as generating our own spaces of communication, remains relevant in the contemporary battle to recover the physical, economic, and spiritual agency of our people in the ‘global economics of knowledge’” (Nahuelpan et. al. 2012, 20). For a further scholarly reflection on the relation between academic research and Mapuche subjects/objects, see Nahuelpan (2013).

              [15] Given the specific political force of this statement, I would like to provide here the original in Spanish, which says: “Historia Mapuche significa retomar nuestro pasado bajo nuestra propia epistemología y construir nuevos conocimientos a partir de nuestra propia cultura” (Marimán et. al. 2006, 9).

Works Cited

Calfio Montalva, Margarita. 2009. “Mujeres mapuche, voces y acciones en momentos de la historia.” Participación y políticas de mujeres indígenas en América Latina. Andrea Pequeño (ed.). Quito: FLACSO Sede Ecuador: 91–109.

Klubock, Thomas Miller. 2014. La Frontera: Forests and Ecological Conflict in Chile’s Frontier Territory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Mallon, Florencia. 2005. Courage Tastes of Blood: The Mapuche Community of Nicolás Ailío and the Chilean State, 1906-2001. Durham: Duke UP.

Marimán, Pablo. 2012 “Pensar y hacer como Mapuche.” LASA Forum, Volume XLIII Issue I (Winter): 16–18.

Marimán, Pablo, Sergio Caniuqueo, José Millalén, and Rodrigo Levil. 2006. ¡… Escucha, winka…! Cuatro ensayos sobre de Historia Nacional Mapuche y un epílogo sobre el futuro. Santiago: LOM Ediciones.

Millalén Paillal, José. 2012.“Taiñ mapuchegen. Nación y nacionalismo Mapuche: construcción y desafío del presente.” Ta iñ fijke xipa rakizuameluwün: historia, colonialismo y resistencia desde el país Mapuche. Temuco: Ediciones Comunidad de Historia Mapuche.

Nahuelpan, Héctor. 2013. “El lugar del ‘indio’ en la investigación social: reflexiones en torno a un debate político y epistémico aún pendiente.” Revista Austral de Ciencias Sociales #24:71–91.

Nahuelpan Moreno, Héctor, Pablo Mariman Quemenado, Herson Huinca Puitrin, Luis Carcamo-Huechante, 2012. Ta iñ fijke xipa rakizuameluwün: historia, colonialismo y resistencia desde el país Mapuche. Temuco: Ediciones Comunidad de Historia Mapuche.

Weaver, Jace, Craig S. Womack, and Robert Warrior. 2006. American Indian Literary Nationalism. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Womack, Craig S., Daniel Heath Justice, and Christopher B. Teuton. 2008. Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

What is it that we call autonomy? What is a process of national liberation?

There is currently a group of Mapuche intellectuals who are developing interesting work around the concepts of autonomy and self-determination.[1] In this context, they have published dossiers[2]in order to expand the debate outward from these concepts. We propose, in this space, to formulate some ideas and reflections without recourse to academic jargon that might ensnare us in questions that are either foreign to our everyday lives, or that cannot explain what we see within our own reality. As a part of this work and our political activities, we have become participants in discussions that often do not appear on the Internet and that are thus relatively unknown, but which have nonetheless nourished our vision.

For us, autonomy represents an aspiration to recover our “suspended sovereignty”— suspended with the invasion and conquest perpetrated by the Chilean and Argentine states. Autonomy is a form of government, a way to exercise self-administration in our territories. It is a juridical-political instrument to generate governance that presupposes a) a territory, b) a population, c) juridical instruments, and d) a bureaucratic apparatus. Autonomy is a tool for self-government and for the exercise of self-determination. In the administrative field, it entails organizing the powers of the State in the territory (executive, legislative and judiciary), as well as promoting the interests of the population in matters of culture, political participation, and economic development. It also implies the constitution of an apparatus with which to exercise power: an autonomous governing body (a territorial congress or other instance) that guarantees the participation of the political forces in the territory.

Autonomy is a technology of social control that is legitimated by the population that lives in a given territory. Its importance lies in its capacity to guarantee the rights inherent in the concept of self-determination, in the right, that is, that all peoples or nations have to make decisions, in a sovereign fashion, about their political, social, economic, and cultural futures, as well as about the structure of government and form of participation they desire. In the winka’s [white man’s] case, this implies decisions regarding the type of State that is desired, as well as the governing regimes (parliamentary or presidential) and the types of democracy that they want to develop (direct, semi-direct, representative). Self-determination, then, implies a series of rights.

The first right is that of self-affirmation, which, in our case, means consciousness about the kinds of collectives we have historically created as a society[3]: consciousness about ourselves as a people who have exercised the right to govern ourselves and to develop our own institutionality. If we include the winka, who currently live in our territory, we must clarify that this is a territory that has been occupied by different ethnic groups through both peaceful[4] and forceful[5] means, In principle, these groups could commit themselves to generating a social pact that would define interethnic relations, which would give it the legitimacy of self-definition. In the Chilean-Argentine case, these nation-states have refused to recognize their own multinational character, seeking to reinforce the conceptual unity of the nation, although the Argentine State has constitutionally recognized indigenous peoples. In Chile they are only recognized as an ethnicity, and ethnicities are not considered bearers of collective rights.

Until the end of nineteenth century, self-definition among the Mapuche sprang from the cultural patterns that served as a basis of law in their society. Today, the population residing within Mapuche territory would be accounted for by the constitution of the autonomous government. It is clear that the winka who live in Mapuche territory cannot be expected to leave, and instead should participate in this process, as self-determination is characterized by the participation of the population. But how do we define what this population is, and who fits into the category of citizens? It is possible to define the subjects of rights inside an autonomous territory by way of soil, blood or “nationalization.” The same thing applies to the territory, which should be identified in its name as a Mapuche country: Wallmapu.

What is commonly known as the right to self-delimitation consists of the demarcation of territorial limits. In the Mapuche case, the historical territory encompassed all the land from the Bío Bío river to Chiloé, and in the current territory of Argentina, the pampas in between the Cuarto and Negro rivers. This mapping needs to be operationalized. The autonomous territory must be formulated in two planes: The first represents an ideal and corresponds to Mapuche territory that was recognized by the parliaments with the Spanish crown, and the second one is premised upon the potential of political negotiation in relation to the demarcations of territory with the [Argentine and Chilean] nation-states.

Internal self-organization bears a close relation to how political power is structured and to the ways in which both the territory and population are endowed with governability—whether, for example, the territory is organized along federalist or centralist lines. The same applies to the way in which power is distributed and participation exercised. In this case, if the territory we claim belongs to us, the Mapuche, we have to consider that there are also winka who live within it. This is why it is perfectly plausible to propose the idea of shared governance wherein the non-Mapuche population would establish their own participatory forms within the autonomous government. Autonomy is premised on political participation and power sharing. One issue we need to solve is the administrative question: What will be the features of our administration and how will these be validated? Co-government implies sharing responsibilities with the winka, recognizing that they have the right to make decisions about their own futures together with us.

One possibility is that an autonomous parliament serves as a government of the people. This would be the optimal form in our case, considering the territorial nature of our identities (the so-called wichan mapu during our period of independence) and the tendency towards federalism that our people have historically demonstrated. Intermediate mechanisms may also exist, like a Mapuche parliament or congress in which the identities and organizations of the movement can have permanent representatives such as traditional authorities, political leaders, and technical advisers (professionals). A congress with these characteristics would undoubtedly make it possible to work on different issues, enabling the participation of the different sectors and leaders that exist in Mapuche society. Such participation would not exclude autonomous political parties, regardless of their ideological affiliation. Their participation would, however, require their self-designation as Mapuche or their identification as part of the territory.

Regarding external self-organization, it is necessary to create networks with other countries and with the international political community. These must recognize our autonomy and respect our internal resolutions, recognizing our sovereignty within our territorial limits, as we recognize theirs. In our case, if we achieve a real autonomy, we must respect the territorial limits of the State as well as its structures of governance, with which we do not necessarily have to agree.

Autonomous Mobilization

Autonomous mobilization requires that the current Mapuche movement transform itself from a “social movement” to a “political movement.”[6] To do so, it must stop being swayed by transitory public sentiments and conjunctures become a movement with defined strategies and with disciplined political cadres. A social movement is articulated on the basis of vindications and social demands that are not necessarily related with gaining access to power. When a social movement’s actions are based on voluntarism, it tends to have a more open-ended character, opening up more spaces for individual rather than collective action and enabling basic coordination. A social movement is characterized by its ability to resist the tendency to unify different positions that involve divergences that cannot be managed or controlled. There exists only a general idea of what articulates them. In this respect, we might say that movements do not have defined organical structure.

It is in this sense that some have posited a dichotomy between an ethno-sectorial movement and an ethno-national movement. In our judgment, this represents an erroneous vision of Mapuche political history—a superficial reading focused on only social demands. These social movements have also proposed political ideas that generate self-management and self-administration through participation in the internal decision-making structures of the State. This strategy can be interpreted as integrationist, and represents a historical failure. But everything the movement has proposed and developed throughout its history also represents a political process of learning about the institutions of the State and civil society. Yet under the colonial regime, organizations had to focus on the legality of the era, assuming two basic orienting criteria: first, achieving popular cohesion in tasks requiring immediate attention, and second, gaining a degree of representation before the State.[7]

Certain histories characterize these organizations as campesinistas because their social base was comprised primarily of campesinos. Such histories describe a social project that returns to the rural sector—a position that even the urban organization of the time supported. This was not and is not a romantic ideal: currently there are a large number of people who see their lives unfolding in the countryside. While the urban has not been negated outright, there is no long term, ongoing work that brings these two sectors together. Some of these organizations see themselves as the rear-guard of the movement whose protagonists are the [rural] communities. Even though these sectors assume their own specificity, they define themselves through their local realities and immediate needs. Lastly, it is important to point out that it is thanks to these movements that we are where we are; they have given us a certain projection, which is why we value them.

A political movement is characterized by a well-defined social project, and its principles of agreement are established to shape an attainable objective. Despite the fact that almost all the organizations share the same the historical demands, this ideal is not yet fully realized, as there have not been spaces of convergence among different Mapuche organizations in which to establish a unified discourse. Ideally, a non-exclusionary autonomous movement would be led by the winka as much as by the Mapuche. This movement would be oriented by a horizontal and intercultural vision for inter-ethnic relations. Currently, it is the Mapuche who have proposed the possibility of autonomy; the non-Mapuche have yet to pronounce themselves on the matter. If this possibility is fulfilled it would generate an interesting precedent in the Americas—the creation of an inter-ethnic social referent

.In our humble opinion, the Mapuche social project should be a culturally strengthened society, with the participation of all traditional, functional and technical leadership; legitimized by the participation of all persons that comprise the pueblo; based in horizontal relations of power; with the development of its own values, the capacity to integrate new elements to the culture, and capability of finding complementarity with other cultures. It should, moreover, be equally respectful of both agreements and disagreements in the decision-making process within the territory. Its first priority should be the common good of everyone, without distinction between urban and rural, but instead in accordance with the unifying concept of a pueblo.

The autonomous movement must simultaneously develop internal dynamics that allow it to maintain militants, disciplined and professional people who can offer a long-term vision. This is important since many concerns span the spectrum from mobilization to the implementation of experiences. This imperative demands attention to economic, social (health, education, poverty), and political issues, as well as establishing individual and collective responsibilities--defining those that are internal, those that are shared, and those that are external. It also requires the generation of public sanctions for breaking agreements and establishing the overall responsibilities of those in power.

While political movements may develop different courses of action, all of these correspond to strategic objectives, which is what differentiates them from social movements. The coordination of actions centered on strategic objectives is what we could define as a framework for social mobilization. Here, both the legitimate and non-legitimate aspects of the process are established. The character of the mobilization, at the same time, also defines these. This definition should be the source of the actions to be developed. Below, we analyze some concepts that may be used to establish the character of the mobilization.

Movement for Autonomy vs. Ethno-Nationalist Movement

Currently, it is not exactly clear what each of the aforementioned concepts mean. One might think that there is some relation between them, or that they mean the same thing. Here, we want to elaborate some proposals about how we conceive them in the context of a project for autonomy. A movement for autonomy bears a relation to a political structure yet to be established, while an ethno-national movement does not necessarily conceive of the issue of power within an autonomous frame, since it is more focused on the ideological labor of creating social consciousness that may or may not develop within the framework of autonomy. Ethno-nationalism could even see itself occupying the position of the State, and disputing its control with another ethnic group. Autonomous movements, however, are characteristically broad and seek to incorporate all the agents and political forces within a territory in a process of negotiation with the State.

An ethno-national movement is, by its nature, exclusionary. As in all nationalisms, it departs from a reading of social and ethnic limits on the basis of differentiation from the “Other,” limiting the participation of all those who do not exclusively belong to that ethnicity. The prefix ethno- may identify the movement with a particular ethnicity, establishing a difference between national and ethno-national movements. While a national movement is explicitly founded to assume State power and implement a national project it has defined, an ethno-national movement may have a broader base and may not necessarily orient itself toward the takeover of power. What are the elements and limits that mark the distinction between nationalism and ethno-nationalism? While unclear, the exclusion of an “Other” would appear to be among them. An ethno-national movement does not necessarily have to advocate for the reconstruction of a culture because, as the prefix ethno- suggests, it is defined by the origins of the persons that constitute it rather than by the native cultural practices of the group. It could very well focus developing electoral strategies, much like a functioning political party.

A second way to approach the ethno-national would be through cultural reconstruction. An ethno-national movement may embrace its cultural practices as a way to make itself politically and ideologically legible across expanding social spheres. Essentially, it would take up the forms of political action that existed prior to the military invasion of the Chilean State, with modifications if it is to incorporate the new actors that emerged during the twentieth century (functional leaders, professionals etc.). The danger of a movement with these characteristics is that it can lead to a crystallization of Mapuche culture. We believe that culture is dynamic and thus able to respond to new contexts. Otherwise it is gradually thrust aside. The tendency towards the crystallization of culture is used as a mechanism of differentiation, where the “Other” is not identified through self-identification, but instead through his or her cultural and ceremonial practices.

A national movement is founded through a process of recruitment that is based on a shared consciousness in which identity is the principal element. This is what imbues it with its ideological character and it is here that its initial battles are fought. If it needs to force history it will, which is why nationalisms often possess features similar to those of fanaticism. Many of them fall back upon chauvinistic positions, because the end-goal of all nationalisms is to strengthen identity, whether it be politically constructed or culturally defined. In our case, defining ourselves as an ethno-national autonomous movement entails the risk of excluding the winka who live in the territory, and ultimately represents the danger of an ethnic dictatorship depending on the level of fanaticism. This means that, parallel to our own historical experience, we would impose own our social vision on the winka, and negate the possibility of building a mutually constructed social project. In short, it would imply the installation of a Mapuche government. But, are we, the Mapuche, in any condition to assume an autonomous government even though we are a demographic minority in the territory? Are we not to respect the right of all Chileans to govern themselves in our territories?

This is why we believe that the movement we must build needs to be autonomous, in the broadest sense of the concept. It must also have a liberatory and national character for the persons who are in our territories, which would make it inter-ethnic in nature. It is clear that we, the Mapuche, must propose our own project for society, to then develop it together with the winka. It is possible that they will participate in our project, a possibility that can only be fulfilled through active and positive engagement. It is the case, however, that many winkas are unfamiliar with autonomy, because the State and the governments of the Concertación have practiced a form of participation that is more informative and consultative, but that ultimately is not respected (the Ralco case, landfills, cellulose plants, and so forth). In an active and positive participation it is the people who build the institutions and, in the process, their own project, generated on the basis of creating experiences jointly, that is, inter-cultural projects that enable long-term working proposals. Through active and positive participation, it is the people who build institutions and, in the process, their own projects. These are generated through the creation of collective experiences—intercultural collaborations that enable long-term working proposals. In order to generate intercultural relations, the Chilean population must put an end to their monocultural practices. In order to generate inter-cultural relations, the Chilean population must put an end to their monocultural practices.

National Liberation, Historical Reconstruction, and Social Recruitment

A movement for national liberation seeks to vindicate a nation that is in a colonial situation. This is why we, the Mapuche, have the right and obligation to speak of national liberation, and demand the rights of self-determination that were suspended at a certain historical moment. A movement like this may be broad and may coincide with autonomist aspirations, yet the most significant elements are the rights that are in question. Such a movement may often produce fear as different forms and strategies of struggle are developed, even as actions are shaped alongside changing political contexts. The escalation of conflict is avoidable if the political will exists among the actors in question.

Historical reconstruction is one of the aspects that most calls our attention, because every process of emancipation appeals to history; it is an ideological mechanism that serves to generate loyalties and make the collectivity meaningful. This is why it is necessary to analyze how we understand history. History itself does not necessarily grant us rights, since it is the people who are the bearers of political rights. Colonialist nations who have perpetrated human rights violations that have been proved before history, like Germany or France, have not lost their rights as a people. It may be painful to accept the history of Wallmapu with Chileans and foreigners, but it is the only way to move forward because history is not a determining condition of the development of a people (los pueblos). In fact, it can become a limiting factor when it is used with ideological ends.

Today it is necessary to develop values that enable Mapuche unification inside the territory. The use of history to this end and the use of our world-view, as a discourse, must be pursued with the utmost care so that these do not become limiting factors in the long term. Fanning hatred does not lend itself to the creation of mutual political trust with the winka that is needed to facilitate autonomy, nor does it enable the will to establish concrete products. History must tell what happened in the past, make us reflect upon the present, and project us forward towards the situation we desire. We believe that these distinctions move us closer to the development of a social project. If it is autonomous we must take into account the forces in the territory that will define it. If it is national in character, it implies the generation of an internal struggle within the territory and an external struggle with the State.

Mapuche National Unification

If we decide to advocate for an autonomous process, then we also need to embark on a process of national unification. We must approach this very carefully because it can lead to another political definition—independence. Historically speaking, until the nineteenth century, we constituted a nation with a territory of approximately 120,000,000 hectares. Currently our population lives in Chile and Argentina, which is why we cannot renounce the reunification of our nation. Today, much of the history of the Mapuche people in the Puelmapu is unknown. Even though organizations have been working to reconstruct this history since the 1990s, using a variety of media technologies, their efforts have been slow and unorganized. In spite of these efforts, the history of the Mapuche in Argentina circulates in very limited circles. This is why it continues to be very difficult for us, the Guluche, to have a fuller understanding of this history.

If we Mapuche have a national history, we also have local histories. Up to now, our historiographic production has been rather poor on both accounts, often focusing on ideological and political aspects rather than on the elucidation of historical reality. The absence of a policy of unification has been quite clear; the initiatives undertaken are little more than isolated efforts that are not part of a broader strategy defined by the Mapuche movement. It is necessary to work on a policy of unification that surpasses the mere exchange of information from one sector to the other. We do not deny the existence of organizations that are working on this matter, but we see a need for greater coordination.

The use of history as an ideological discourse enacts the first phase of the decolonization process, in which what is ours and what is foreign are defined as a means of repositioning. While this phase has begun to run its course in so far as today the demand is for the implementation of experiences (educational, economic, social, political etc.), it does require us to undergo a process of professionalization. This implies the disciplining of a Mapuche movement that has not yet been achieved, but which would lead us towards the creation of a political movement that would involve the Puelmapu. These experiences may initially clash with the limitations of national states, particular with regards to legal frameworks, the cognitive structures of the non-mapuche, and the economic interests of power elites whose influence is manifest throughout. In this context, we will have to develop new juridical bodies that ensure our collective rights, work on the sensibility of the non-Mapuche, and present an ever-more encompassing social project in which Mapuches and Chileans participate to dispute the spaces of local and transnational economic groups.

Mapuche Diaspora and the Process of Repatriation

From a political perspective, we might refer to the Mapuche diaspora as the population forced to abandon the Wallmapu, their national territory, primarily through political and economic means. This self-identified population that today goes by an urban Mapuche identity is located in the cities to the north of the Biobio in the Gulumapu. There are groups among them who have chosen to develop and highlight common features that that articulate them the Mapuche, be it because they self-identify, because they want to re-embrace the mapuzungun [Mapuche language], or because they seek to come together and establish a sense of community. Other sectors that live in the city are awaiting the opportunity to return to their communities to work and live on their land. There is currently no project that brings these sectors together as a people, nor is there an effective answer to their demands, yet they persevere all the same.

One answer for these groups could be a process of repatriation in which the population in this situation would be identified in order to implement relocation policies and strategies that assess the possibilities both in the city and the countryside and measure existing aptitudes and skills. It is necessary, moreover, to gauge the economic potential of this population in relation to the investment, and to the broader lens of economic development through which repatriation must be understood. It is possible that in some cases repatriated populations will resettle in their own communities or in areas that belong to their territories of origin. In other cases, they may establish themselves in cities; their lives and livelihoods are oriented towards to urban worlds.

For the people who live in the city, inside and outside the Wallmapu, it is necessary to create conditions that enable them to practice their culture and establish bridges of communication for the development of inter-ethnic experiences and for their economic integration. It is crucial to consider whether this population will be able to vote from outside their territory on issues proposed by the autonomous government. The results of these actions must be established within a collaborative framework, in which the diaspora must make its proposals in an organized fashion and negotiate them with the autonomous government. The autonomous government must, in turn, negotiate with the States in order to safeguard its population with regards to rights, social welfare, and conditions for the development of their culture.

Organic Processes vs Autonomist or Ethno-national Parties

Other elements that must be considered are the types of organizations that need to be developed to promote a particular social project and framework for mobilization. Among these are those that are broad in character, such as instances for coordination, as well as representative parliaments or assemblies that can articulate smaller organizations around principles of unity and shared objectives. On the other hand, there are political parties, which organize the participation of individuals. Under a federalist logic, parliaments or assemblies enable the autonomy of their member organizations, but this does not mean that political responsibilities disappear. These organizations are also able to articulate themselves and exercise power horizontally, running the danger of the rise of personalistic leaders when in the absence of adequate controls. Even if autonomous, organizations must establish working guidelines based on agreed upon principles and commitments to be followed. They must also establish clear sanctions for breaking such commitments. These organizations should work on the basis of agreements and, in case of disagreements, they must establish a mechanism for mediation. Such organizations will become more responsive as a political movement is consolidated.

Regarding political parties, these may be part of the expression of a political movement, based on developing and divulging its particular vision. These parties may be liberal, conservative, religious, integrationist, and, in an extreme case, fundamentalist in character. Political parties have a vertical structure, an internal organization that stems from the development of power. An autonomist party must be broad and express a national self-identification. It must also present an ideological option. Parties represent a specific segment of the population, characterized by being militants or sympathizers of the idea that the party represents.

A nationalist or ethno-nationalist party has a more restricted character as it only accepts people of a single ethnic origin in its rank-and-file and in leadership positions. While this “exclusive” aspect might be disguised, is eventually always becomes visible in practice. The national parties only represent a majority when they express a social project that the population wants to see implemented, which is why it matters that their strategies be oriented around the needs of their electorate, as a party is evaluated in relation to the votes that are cast and the candidates that are elected. While parties conceive of political participation through electoral means, for an autonomous movement political participation can unfold through diverse spaces beyond the electoral arena and can focus on social, rather than purely electoral, objectives.We believe more in a socially based process that is based on the interrelation that can be generated between diverse Mapuche territorial units. We conceive the unification of these units as a federation that can organize a Mapuche Parliament. Within this structure, traditional authorities would have a space to contribute value-centered and spiritual elements, participating together with political leaders with experience in management and administration, as well as with professionals and intellectuals that can handle information and analysis. If we, the Mapuche, could have an intermediate unit of government—one that sits between the central and the local powers, Chileans, in general, could also develop similar instances in order to define the social project that they aspire to.

The Framework for Mobilization

These frameworks are established on the basis of the elements that we consider legitimate within a process of mobilization; a list of items are agreed upon by a collective, which implies generating strategic objectives in order to achieve particular outcomes or generate desired situations. Currently, there is an absence of long-term strategies. Thus, while different organizations have developed their own strategies, there exists no strategy as a Mapuche People. It is necessary to identify the different issues we need to confront and establish specific strategies: communicational, economic, cultural, and so forth. It is clear that intercultural concerns traverse the majority of these issues, especially as governance unfolds within the context of a broader autonomous movement. If addressed as an ethno-national movement, then governing will simply be based on the Mapuche.

Mobilization implies political participation that can be exercised through electoral means. This is why autonomous or national parties are created, depending on the objectives they seek to achieve. Another form of political participation is placing representatives in the State, a strategy that up to now has not borne fruit because the representatives are only accountable to the State. While we value the efforts of some functionaries to generate favorable situations for their people, the rest act as lackeys of the powerful, never hesitating to come to their aid. We must also consider different means of exercising pressure, from a simple demonstration of civil disobedience to positions of self-defense that are not necessarily violent.[8]

Clearly we, as Mapuche, cannot renounce our rights, not as whim or conceit, but because it is a necessity for us to attain a baseline level of welfare and development as a Pueblo. It would be important for the winka to accompany us, because it would offer them a space to do the same, as well as the possibility of defining their own development in an interconnected rather than a unilateral fashion. Today, we cannot claim that this or that political bloc is our potential ally. At one point we thought that the Concertación could be an ally, because the Right (Alliance for Chile) has openly displayed its intolerance as well as its ignorance of our history and of the rights that we posses as a people. But the Concertación learned well from the dictatorship—particularly how to repress social movements, undermine their bases and delegitimize their demands. It has learned how to adminstrate populism and keep the population ignorant. The arrogance and self-importance of its presidents and functionaries has intimidated people. Political “pyrotechnics” such as inaugurations and media spectacles have diverted the discussion from the issues that are most relevant to the population. With respect to the political left, we have never surpassed the status of the “Mapuche front,” a place where political groups can intervene to pursue their own social agendas. Nevertheless, it is more strategic to make a call to the common citizen and invite them to reform things from their own spaces, to generate demands from their everyday reality. It is plausible that such a call will emerge to transform into a political movement, especially as more organized sectors work to incorporate and amplify their voices. We need to talk, discuss, agree, and recognize our own prejudices and ignorance about each other. It is possible that a shared project that shakes off those who oppress us will bring us closer to the social and collective wellbeing that we seek.

Economic Autonomy and the Social Project

To think about an autonomous project without contemplating economic issues is to perpetuate a neocolonialism characterized by chronic economic dependence, a dependence that would determine political decisions and therefore condition popular participation. It is necessary to understand the economy not only as a structural factor, but also as a structuring one. This means that in an ideological sense, the economy also produces subjectivities, a phenomenon that can be seen in the organization of labor and in the logic underlying exchange. The economy creates values and perpetuates them through its development. It shapes people within particular ways of conceiving the world. In an economy that stimulates competition between people, individualism will persist despite the development of collective projects. This logic leads to a conception in which human beings are measured by their functionality, and not by their integrity.

For us, an autonomous movement has to formulate a series of values congenial with its own economy. One of the pillars of human beings is their integrity, and this why we must define what we mean by the term development. Currently this concept is understood in terms of variables and measurable indexes: schooling, income, access to goods, and so forth. Undoubtedly, every social project seeks the “wellbeing” of its population, although the variables mentioned above are not enough to measure the satisfaction of a population or its life aspirations, even if they are necessary for the artifice of public policy.[9] From our autonomist perspective, we must ask ourselves what type of being we want to form, because the fact that people are highly successful and educated, with large incomes and acquisitive power, does not guarantee that they are good people, respectful and tolerant people, lovers of wisdom and the like.[10]

A current problem is the absence of economic studies that deeply and rigorously consider the Mapuche and its regional issues. Granted, there are ethnographic descriptions and government statistics, but they are insufficient to explain chronic poverty; most decisions have been made on the basis of common sense rather than on the basis of serious research. There is no study that investigates the historical debt—what we, the Mapuche, lost by being forcefully incorporated into the nation-state has yet to be fully established. The loss of lands, cattle, mining, forests, rights to water and the subsoil has not been quantified. Without these studies, it is difficult to negotiate any reparation. This is indeed a strategic question, since reparations from the Chilean State could potentially generate the economic base that would finance the autonomous government during an initial period.

There are no reliable studies about the underground markets in which the Mapuche have historically participated, even while the concept of a subsistence or survival economy has been applied as a strategy to understand Mapuche poverty. Ethnographies have denied their inter-ethnic relation with the winka with regards to commerce, going as far as to argue that the Mapuche, for cultural reasons, have failed to integrate to markets except to gain access to things they cannot produce themselves.[11] Nonetheless, there is a Mapuche cultural vision about the use of resources within a broader conception of the relation between humans and nature, economic relations, and the way that power itself is understood. The articulating feature here is “reciprocity,” a concept that describes social relations among humans as much as between humans and nature. The economy to be developed in an autonomous territory must be understood as one that is constructed in the process of attaining autonomy. To achieve this, different relevant aspects have to be developed. The first is research into macro and microeconomic structures from a historical perspective. The second has to do with access to the economic information necessary that is related to participation and decision-making. Currently, only particular economic agents possess such information, and are therefore able to influence territorial planning for the region. A third aspect is the development and acquisition of technology. The fourth is transformation of the productive sector that has to deepen the relevant modalities of production such as associations, cooperatives, and commercialization.

Today, the greatest obstacles to Mapuche development lie in the process of exchange, as the existing intermediaries base their actions on speculation. Many of these middlemen have much more information about the markets and possess the infrastructure to concentrate greater volume, granting them access to the markets of their choice. If changes in the markets occur, they use their resources to buy and sell other products, or to channel their resources towards different investments. This is why the Mapuche and winka producers absorb all the costs of crises or of the saturation of markets, both in the rural and urban arenas. Mapuche and winka workers, whose production is oriented towards primary and tertiary sectors, are dependent upon external markets and capital flows, respectively. An autonomous economy cannot promote this kind of fragility in relation to markets and capital, because it leads to the fragility of labor and production. This is why it is necessary to develop a non-dependent economy. Without a doubt, it is necessary to strengthen the internal market, generating an economic base that seeks the accumulation of internal capital in order to enable an equitable distribution. Additionally, it is important to develop technology that corresponds to reality, which implies generating infrastructure that harmonizes cultural aspects with ecological diversity. This includes four key elements: a) research, b) studies for the feasibility of investment, c) training and formation of specialized labor, and d) investment projects.

It is also necessary to generate forms of exchange, such as barter, that provide an alternative to a mercantilist logic These can enable access to goods on the basis of exchanges of goods rather than monetized transactions, which would imply price controls. Along the same lines, it is necessary to establish price margins or thresholds to buffer the devaluation of products. It is also necessary to establish the financial infrastructure for the development of an internal market as well as mechanisms to better engage external markets.

For small-scale farmers, the credit system does not function according to their ability to pay, which is why the small campesino is marginalized, lacking a monthly income to make their monthly payments, which are no doubt compounded by interest. This is also the case with small and medium businesses and the lines of investment credit available to them, beyond which there is little in the way of advising or monitoring for these investments. With regards to exchanges, it is necessary to encourage a strong process of association and commercialization that allows us to intervene in exchanges in order to reduce operational costs and increase profit margins, as well as developing plans that stimulate accumulation through savings.

In the case of consumer credits, it is indispensable to break the population’s chronic cycle of debt. This implies intervening these agencies, regularizing interest rates, and making forms of payment more flexible. These companies speculate with and profit from the wages of the lowest-paid workers, both Mapuche and Chilean. They also generate false expectations of life and consume the resources acquired by the working masses. The only way to maintain equitable living standards is to impose raises on the lowest salaries, and initiate regulatory controls on the highest ones in order to produce a better distribution of earnings.

The educational and vocational centers, moreover, should be oriented to the labor needs of the region: it is necessary to regulate the educational supply to the needs of the labor market in the autonomous territory, preparing excellent cadres for public service and selection by political quotas. This is not a populist argument: an autonomous government needs professionals more than it needs activists in order to establish a technically solid structure. The training of these professionals must be oriented by the needs of the autonomous territory, and the same should be the case with their graduate specialization. This implies investing in the formation of professionals, in Chile and abroad, that are committed to the autonomous cause, and in our case, the Mapuche cause.

The autonomous government must ensure social welfare in three key areas: education, health, and the system of social security and pensions. Its economy, therefore, must not center exclusively on the economic growth, but must focus in equal measure on human development indexes. Likewise, the autonomous government’s taxation policies should not be excessively centered on the taxation of people, but rather on the creation of multiple companies that will enable a permanent income. It is necessary to “nationalize” the companies in the territory, such as the hydro-electric plants, as well as expelling the companies that cause grave damages to the environment and that limit economic capacity in the long-term, like cellulose plants and forestry companies. Likewise, it is important to attract investment that guarantees the infrastructure for sustainable development, which entails a possibility for studying external markets.All autonomous economic infrastructure must me oriented towards creating social cohesion through the integral development of persons, their values, their incomes, their education, and their access to goods. Nevertheless, this can only be achieved if people change their attitude, transforming themselves from passive receptors to active participants in the process. This attitude might be subjective, but it can also transform itself into an attitudinal disposition towards life and society; ultimately, understanding the responsibilities of citizenship, the shared responsibilities, and the responsibilities that pertain exclusively to the government. A society that grows is one that possesses a critical attitude towards itself and is capable of committing itself to the changes that it requires.

Mapuche Territorial Reconstruction is an Autonomous Process

We are currently undergoing a process that some have denominated the reconstruction of territorial identities. The Lafkenche and Nagche movements are certainly part of this, but there are a numerous identities experiencing these processes. They span the gamut from the repositioning of traditional Mapuche leadership, to a process of cultural reconstruction that embraces ceremonies in their more original meaning and structure, in order to create a public space where Mapuches can express their religiosity and transmit modes of learning as a People. This process of recovery has led to the more prominent participation of young people and the elderly, for example, in the rebirth of mapuzungun [the Mapuche language]. This phenomenon includes urban and rural groups that participate in these ceremonies, which themselves become an important recruitment mechanism. On the other hand, participation in these practices engenders an identity that is simultaneously global and local, which is something that those Mapuche intellectuals who question the importance of these processes have not experienced.

Without a doubt, the ceremonies and Mapuche public spaces represent an important mechanism for recruitment, and for repatriation as well, in the sense that they inculcate belonging and a yearning for a return to their place of origin. We promote these elements because the social fabric is strengthened, enabling a sense of a larger collective that makes a strong first impression with regards to recruitment and also leaves an indelible mark on the public spaces where these ceremonies take place. When speaking of territorial reconstruction, one argues for the reconstitution of several territorial units that can be interwoven together into a large fabric that allows for different levels of self-definition and adherence. Today we see the recomposition of families. When one enters a public space, one does so as a member of a larger unit, although the ceremonial space represents a greater unit still, which differentiates it from other territorial units. This is where the distinctions between one lof and another emerge: the number of families that it brings together, the roles that they assume, and the characteristics of how the ceremonial space unfolds, which is closely related to the context, the physical space, and the spiritual symbols that are present there. All of this represents a cultural-historical synthesis of thousands of years.

The reconstruction of a lof involves a series of conflicts, many of which may be imperceptible. These are generated by the rearrangement of the structures in the territory—imposed organizations such as neighborhood councils, for example—which have displaced the Mapuche leadership. Processes of ideological decolonization emerge and antagonisms with existing institutions, such as churches and others, are often expressed. New strategies and modalities not present in the culture are developed, on the other hand, making it so that discussion must accompany each new experience. What is important here is that we are imagining new strategies to safeguard our experiences and practices, making them sustainable in over time, and socially validating those cultural practices that prove most effective.

The reconstruction of a lof entails the recomposition of both internal and external relations, assuming the tensions inherent in these processes as well as confronting tensions of previous processes that were left in an almost static state as a result of the process of forced resettlement (reducción) that followed the invasion by the Chilean state. In other words, the different types of conflicts that exist in communities would be further exacerbated by the new tensions that would accompany territorial reconstruction. This is not necessarily a negative scenario in the long run, as communities could find solutions to resolve conflicts in the context of greater stability. We can visualize this situation in the following way: Great waves of migration were the result of the Chilean-Argentine invasion, which lasted approximately 20 years and which was exacerbated by constant military skirmishes between 1883-1900. These migrations influenced the composition of the territorial units (lof, rewe, and ayllarewe) because when the original communities received outisder (akunche)families, a process of adaptation ensued that eventually generated conflict. These were obviously dealt with in some way, because the new arrivals had to adapt to the practices and customs of the receiving group and accept that for a long time time they would not be able to intervene politically, because political leadership remained with their hosts (anümche).

Social integration requires a process of local ethno-genesis in which the differences that define the other as other are overcome. The natural course of this process was interrupted by re-settlement, making it difficult to overcome these tensions. In this context, receiving communities were thus not able to see this migration as an asset. In many cases, rivalries remain to this day and in others, they are further exacerbated as traditional leadership is replaced a functional leaders who only need to be literate to exercise these roles and receive the State’s recognition as legitimate interlocutors. Territorial reconstruction will encounter these unresolved processes and will have to approach them with a delicate hand, underscoring the importance and magnitude of the process and its final objectives, as it transforms territorial unity into a single representative body

.In this territorial work, one can appreciate how the proposal of constituting a single body generates a local identity that is based on the right to decide how this unity will be developed. Territorial work allows people in the community to decide how they want to live, and to generate initiatives in the spheres of production, organization, and education, as well as in the way they relate to State agencies. This, in turn, presents the opportunity to exercise self-management and to break, or at least undermine, the relationship of dependency through the creation of our own structures. On the other hand, the State also benefits from this situation because it can focus its investments and obtain better results in the realm of production, decrease administrative burdens, and maintain social stability through popular satisfaction in the short term. For the Mapuche territorial units, this represents the challenge of professionalization and the development of the necessary technical expertise to carry forth their proposals. In other words, they must create specific kinds of expertise and generate a division of labor that enables participation. This also requires assigning a role to the traditional leadership whose function is to generate the cultural resources needed to make the unit function. On the other hand, the functional leadership must generate expertise for external and internal negotiations. The professionals and technicians, on their part, must provide diagnostics and analysis for the advancement of negotiations. The community must be informed and decide how to approach different situations in an organized manner.

In this process of reconstruction, this opens the possibility for the territorial units, rather than illuminated theoreticians, to generate the discourse and practice of autonomy, particularly in the face of emerging problems that will no longer be in the hands of municipal governments or other local powers. On the other hand, these units will have to turn to the old system of territorial alliances to generate transformations and undertake the process of Mapuche national unification, as all these territories define themselves as Mapuche. The use of instruments like political parties or other organisms of a federal character, such as parliaments, will be part of the decisions that these units have to make in the process of reconstruction. At most we Mapuche professionals, can contribute our analyses towards the making of informed decisions, presenting options, which will be undoubtedly limited by our training. While these contributions are received as such by the communities, their decisions are often based on considerations that professionals are simply unable to see. Under the current conditions, the movements of territorial identities represent a more effective approach towards creating future autonomy. Whether these are administered through governments or co-governments, power is sustained through the decision-making capacity of collectives. The professionals and technicians are those who render these decisions viable.

To those who see urban Mapuche as being alien to these processes, we say that this view is tainted in prejudice, as the majority of them are still in contact and collaborating with their communities of origin. We could make the most out of these relations to generate a number of collective initiatives. This could even be a mechanism of social recruitment, because if a significant portion of these Mapuche saw the possibility of development in their lof or in the countryside, they would return. For the extreme cases where people have lost all links with their places of origin, it is necessary to implement initiatives that can reconstitute the meaning of community. These groups cannot be isolated and powerless with regards to decisions that pertain to their society or to an autonomous government. We must remember that the lofs emerged on the basis of bonds between families that gradually created a process of local fusion, which gave their members the particular identity that they carry. A process along these lines can be taken up once again today, understanding however these processes are long and depend on the will of the group in question.

Ultimately, Mapuche national unification entails the reconstruction of the social fabric that does not take place in an extemporal moment or in a vacuum, but within a specific historical moment and space—our territorial identities. Recomposing family ties leads to an ontological process aimed at defining what kind of people we want to be. This is determined both by our own cultural constitution as well as by the changes wrought by globalization. This territorial process does not mean isolation from Chilean society. On the contrary, it means deciding the type of relations that we want with it. It does not entail an exclusion of the winka, who is welcome participate if the community accepts it, so long as he fulfills the duty of sharing his ideals and practicing them. The winka will have the option of choosing the society they prefer for themselves and their children. We want to point out, lastly, that these processes depend heavily on Chilean society opening up to democracy, leaving aside centralist and asymmetrical positions, and on the capacity of Chileans to decide on matters concerning their own society. This is the only way to generate the conditions that will allow us to negotiate the autonomy of the MAPUCHE COUNTRY.


Translated by Miguel Winograd


[1] There are currently three known autonomous positions: the Mapuche Liwen Center for Studies and Documentation, the Ad Mapu Organization and the Aukiñ Wallmapu Güllam (Council of All the Lands). A series of articles have elaborated commentaries on these proposals. Tirúa’s Identidad Lafkenche is the only document that has demonstrated a shift in mentality for the Mapuche movement, placing the territorial theme front and center, in a much more accessible level for Mapuche social reconstruction and more conducive to a focus on autonomy. This document is not formulated as an autonomous proposal, although it declares itself in favor of autonomy.

[2] See the case of the journalists of the Azkintuwe newspaper.

[3] It bears pointing out that we, Mapuches, have always had concepts of self-identification. For Boccara, the category of reche [the originators] was created as a way to distinguish natives from the winka, a concept that then became the self-identification of Mapuche. Both concepts make sense within the Mapuche world, in epistemological (as construction of knowledge) as well as ontological (in the social being that is sought) terms. In the twentieth century, the concept used by the leadership was raza [race], to accentuate the differentiation with the winka. Over the last 30 years, the concept of Pueblo has made solid inroads, and since the nineties, the same has been the case with the concept of Nation. Likewise, the demand for collective rights has been present from the beginning of the twentieth century, even though today these rights are conceived more systematically in a global context than they were 100 years ago. Clearly there is a consciousness that, due to our culture and history, we are neither Argentine nor Chilean, but Mapuche, and that we were forcibly incorporated into these Nation States. Coñuepan and Panguilef (in the first half of the twentieth century) made more concrete proposals to achieve a level of autonomy, such as the development of our own institutions, in the first case, and the idea of an Indigenous Republic, in the second.

[4] Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries a large number of winka settled in Mapuche territory, fleeing from the miserable lives they led with peninsular and creole Spaniards. Once the military conquest of the gulumapu was consummated, the Army displaced a significant part of this population, which was then forced to wander and eventually settle in “fiscal” lands as tenants of the new latifundia that were gradually being formed.

[5] From the war’s outset, a population of foreign colonists and large landowners [latifundistas] start to settle in the territories, except for Llanquihue, where the process of colonization began earlier, but always sponsored by the State. The difference in the case of the Araucanía is that the State delegates the task to private agents, thus giving birth to the large latifundia owned by the businessmen who signed these contracts. Of the colonists who arrived, many abandoned their lands due to the extreme life conditions. The ones who remained had to learn the rules of the game: only the strongest survive.

[6] The Mapuche movement in itself has never been a completely political movement, but neither has its character been completely social, since it has articulated explicitly political vindications. This situates the movement in an intermediate position. What it has not done is to take the great leap to establish a strategic organization, nor has it effectively defined its social project, although it has sketched out certain outlines. We have written this paragraph to emphasize the extremes, but the Mapuche movement finds itself currently in a period of transition.

[7] It bears keeping in mind that the first Mapuche organizations were of a mutual character, and only later would they become sectorial organizations. Currently they are Indigenous Associations, a figure that allows them to function legally and therefore prevents them from being catalogued as illicit associations.

[8] Civil disobedience has been used in contexts of colonial repression and one of its main representatives is Gandhi. It is necessary to conclude clearly that an imposed normative framework is illegitimate in order to exercise it. A form of civil disobedience can be calling young people to resist military recruitment, considering the role played by the Chilean Army in imposing and sustaining the colonial situation. Another way could be calling for the non-payment of taxes because we, the Mapuche have been impoverished by the State; or not singing the national anthems of the states involved in taking away or sovereignty; or not to respect the sentences of the tribunals against leaders who are convicted of crimes in the effort to silence their political voices. Self-defense is the right and the duty to defend one’s self of all the repressive acts, such as involuntary searches or seizures realized for political motives or for reasons of intimidation. Actions against plants that contaminate the environment or make people sick are legitimate when the authorities do not act after proper complaints are presented. All of these measures should stem from a process of popular consultations that validates them, after considering all the proposals that the population of a given territory make. These issues are difficult for the state to take on because they imply its very reformulation, a possibility opposed by the governing class as well as the majority of the functionaries. All of this can be solved peacefully, although the State, its functionaries, and the governing class can also exacerbate it.

[9] It bears pointing out that public policies correspond to government policies, which is why they focus in emphasizing the work of governments and the successes of political conglomerates. In the evaluation of programs, the population generally participates indirectly and with very few evaluative criteria. On the other hand, the population or the citizens, in the state’s nomenclature, do not participate in the decision-making process, which means that the continuity of a program depends on the decisions of the conglomerate in power. Communicational strategies are used to mitigate the possible effects or reactions of the population, which is why no one is fully informed about the programs. Public policies seek to manage conflicts, even reaching the point of lengthening or exacerbating them according to their purposes.

[10] Generally, only people of working-age enter the calculations of development, which constitutes a limiting vision because an old person is not considered part of the developed group. We must remember that the pensions that the people of our pueblo currently receive are a misery. In fact, the pensions are well below the cost of daily essentials, even though an elderly person who receives that pension might be a lonko with a deeper wisdom and far more honorable attitude than any man inside any branch of the State.

[11] An analysis employing the concept for the Mapuche case can be found in the works of Milan Stuchlik.